History & philosophy
It was late 2011, and the commercial world was starting to change even faster than it already had. People were buying apps on their iPhones for the first time. Companies such as Bol.com and Coolblue had already existed for about 10 years, but only really started to grow from 2011 onwards. They both saw their turnover increase tenfold in the years to come. The number of webshops exploded and the last Wehkampgids fell on the doormat, buying online was a fact.
These developments had an enormous effect not only on the consumer market, but also on the business market. In 2012, Microsoft no longer sold software packages, but online downloadable licences. Salesforce (CRM) requires an online login and no more servers or CD-ROMs. People got used to orientating and buying online for business purposes.
At that time, The Blue Hour was still a commercial consultancy and we (founders Boris and Laurens) saw organisations struggling with attracting clients and developing relationships. People stuck to old habits: cold calling was still the order of the day in B2B sales, while the conversion rate had become minimal. Only 3 appointments in 100 companies was a conversion that was accepted. Not to mention the low quality of the appointments, because who is waiting for an appointment where they have to listen to a sales pitch? Yet this traditional way of doing business is still deeply rooted in many organisations today.
It was time for a different approach, so we started experimenting. It turned out that people in the B2B market were still interested in a personal meeting, but that there were different requirements for this meeting. Sharing knowledge has become a priority, advice is expected on the developments in the market and the role of the organisation concerned. In short, the conversation must have "strategic value" and be "not a pitch".
2013: From consulting firm to research firm
Research proved to be a good tool and even more specifically: benchmark research. This makes it possible to compare organisations with their surroundings and that results in a much more substantive conversation because the interlocutor in the research has indicated what his or her challenges are.
The first benchmark study produced impressive results: more than 40% of the organisations we approached took part in the benchmark research and wanted an appointment on the basis of this benchmark study. Moreover, almost half of them eventually became customers. Now that was conversion! It was 2013 and The Blue Hour in its current form was born.
In the following years, we invested in the online systems to allow prospects of our clients to participate in their online benchmark research and provide them with good reports. The Blue Hour thus became an integral part of the sales strategy for many organisations: at high level (c-level management) High-quality appointments generate on the basis of benchmark research.
2016: Marketing automation and other techniques
In the B2B market, people are starting to see the benefits of collecting customer information so that marketing activities can be more targeted. Spam was already out of the question since 2009, so people were looking for a marketing strategist that is much more personal. Therefore, around the year 2016, the term: "marketing automation" became more and more familiar.
Marketing automation is a technique that (among other things) creates profiles of people based on their online behaviour. This makes it possible to get exactly the right message, at the right time to the right target group (or even person), based on their interests. Sales and marketing activities are therefore much more effective.
We capitalised on this technique because it makes it possible to keep the leads and prospects that were lost in the research in the network. Think about sharing research results and insights through mail campaigns. In 2018, The Blue Hour became a platinum partner and reseller of SharpSpring marketing automation software.
2019: History repeats itself
With our way of working, we try to make online marketing and offline sales work together powerfully. The basis of the cooperation will always be research, but new techniques follow each other in rapid succession. Services such as SEO/SEA optimisation and retargeting have become an integral part of our approach.
Due to the increasing complexity of techniques in the field of sales and marketing, The Blue Hour is regularly asked for advice and guidance.
History repeats itself...